Editorial: Journal continues ’20 endorsements for NM House

Today, the Journal continues its general election endorsements. For information including candidate Q&As, district maps and news stories as they are published, go to ABQJournal.com/election2020.

District 20 – Republican, Michael Hendricks

As an immigration lawyer who grew up in central Mexico, Hendricks offers a fresh Republican perspective on immigration. He works to help people through the citizenship and asylum legal processes and believes a border wall is more a waste of money than a benefit.

Hendricks considers himself a “true Republican,” half Republican and half Libertarian. Pet projects are his pet peeve. And he says he has no personal conflicts that could influence his decisions as a state lawmaker. “I don’t owe anyone anything at the Roundhouse,” he told the Journal Editorial Board.

Hendricks supports cutting spending over raising taxes. “We do not have a funding problem; we have an administration problem,” he said in his Journal Q&A regarding education appropriations. He notes every dollar paid in taxes is one less dollar in the pockets of consumers. That perspective could be very helpful in a Legislature than has raised spending by 20% in the past two years.

Hendricks faces Democrat Meredith Dixon to represent the district that covers parts of southeastern Albuquerque, including the Four Hills area.

District 44 – Republican incumbent, Jane Powdrell-Culbert

Asked why voters should re-elect her, Powdrell-Culbert simply said: “I’ve done what they’ve asked me to.” And she has.

First elected in 2002, Powdrell-Culbert has consistently been pro-business. She says one of her biggest legislative accomplishments was the angel tax credit program, a state law enacted in 2007 that has since been expanded, allowing investors in new technology startups to deduct investment expenses from state income taxes. The program has helped homegrown startup companies gain more traction to diversify the state’s economy and expand the number of good-paying, high-tech jobs.

Her other pro-business proposals include “a complete overhaul” of the state’s tax code starting with the elimination of GRTs, right-to-work legislation, and reining in the governor’s unilateral public health emergency powers. “Small business is the backbone of this state and should never be devastated again like it has been with COVID-19,” she said in her Journal Q&A.

Powdrell-Culbert faces Democrat Gary Tripp and Libertarian Jeremy Myers to represent the district that includes the town of Bernalillo and Corrales and Rio Rancho.

District 57 – Republican incumbent, Jason Harper

One paradox of lawmaking seems to be the more times a legislative initiative comes up short, the more likely it is to eventually pass and be enacted. And like the Energizer Bunny, Harper is relentless in his push to overhaul New Mexico’s antiquated gross receipts tax code and eliminate “pyramiding,” the taxation of business-to-business transactions.

Harper at one point proposed a massive tax reform bill that cleared the House but died in the Senate. Since then, the research engineer at Sandia National Labs has taken piecemeal approaches to tax reform. “This tax code is like swiss cheese – too many holes!” he said in his Journal Q&A. “Let’s melt it down, close the loopholes, then broaden the base and lower the tax rate.”

Harper is a leading voice for fiscal restraint in the Legislature. He says the state’s financial crisis is self-inflicted by over-spending, and his voice will be even more important in the future in the absence of fiscally conservative Democrats like John Arthur Smith, who was defeated in the June primary. “Government can tighten its belt, just like every New Mexico family,” he correctly said in his Journal Q&A.

Harper faces Democrat Billie Ann Helean to represent the district that includes northern Rio Rancho.

District 68 – Republican, Giovanni Coppola

Coppola, if elected, would be 29 years old when he takes office – younger than any current state legislator. He would be a refreshing addition to a Legislature composed of many retirees who aren’t experiencing the same financial strains so many young families have been facing for months.

The vice president of a family-owned company that distributes janitorial products says New Mexico is a difficult place for young adults to find good jobs. He correctly observes the drain of the state’s youth is harming the state’s progress in many areas.

Coppola hopes to bring a strong business perspective to the Roundhouse. He supports corporate income tax reform, eliminating the income tax on Social Security benefits and GRT reform, including making GRT tax rates uniform across the state.

And he wisely says state lawmakers need to get spending under control in one or two years rather than prolonging the pain of spending cuts over half a decade, or even worse, enacting permanent tax increases.

Coppola faces Democratic incumbent Karen Bash to represent the district that covers much of Northwest Albuquerque, including Paradise Hills.

This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.

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